As to the annual Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade, please don’t make this the first year in 65 that it won’t be held. The status of that event is yet to be determined but shouldn’t be based on the possibility of residents failing to maintain social distancing.
After all, it’s up to Kingsport residents to protect themselves. If they fear others will not do so, or are at high risk if infected, they should stay home and watch it on TV if that arrangement can be made.
Kingsport could have joined Johnson City in canceling all July 4th events but fortunately has decided to go forward. Or it could have joined Greeneville in hosting the works: a parade, concerts and fireworks. But perhaps that’s a bit much and Kingsport has found the right balance.
Said Jud Teague, executive director of Visit Kingsport, “We’re going to do two displays: one downtown from Cement Hill and another one at Dobyns-Bennett. We’re going to do them at the same time to the same music.”
Teague said the idea behind two displays at the same time is to prevent having a large crowd at one event. People will be able to spread out across town to enjoy the fireworks. Folks are being encouraged to sit in their vehicles, listen to the music on the radio and enjoy the display.
The music will be aired on WTFM (98.5) and its sister stations WRZK (95.9) and WVEK (102.7.) The fireworks will begin between 9:45 and 10 p.m. and last 12 to 15 minutes. Kingsport staff are working on creating a map of the best viewing locations. Maps will be distributed to businesses and restaurants for display.
“Leadership Kingsport, a program of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, is in discussions with the city on additional ways to celebrate Independence Day. Details will be coming out soon,” said Vanessa Bennett, executive director of operations and talent development at the chamber.
How about asking the community what it would like? The celebration is for residents after all, but time is growing short.
A concert may be a concern because for them to enjoy it, folks have got to be crowded together. It’s a bit early in the recovery to take that risk. Our local infection rate has been flat, and we want to keep it that way, or better yet declining.
But what’s the Fourth of July without a parade? It may not be much, given the short time between now and the holiday. But if the route is sufficient, folks can space themselves along it.
And so what if it’s not what we’re used to? We need a break from the pandemic and the big-city violence that hopefully will have ended by the holiday. Let’s have a parade. We need it.